I’ve been talking about starting up this blog for some time, but was waiting on a few things. Now that I’ve been appropriately trained in important blogosphere-isms and am an expert on social media (NOT), I’m going attempt to retroactively catch you all up on the ups and downs of being a postgraduate student on the western end of the most international city in the world- LONDON!
It’s hard to recall now what arriving Uxbridge was like 6 weeks ago, but I think for any student considering to study abroad, the arrival can be both a super exciting and super tumultuous part of the process and so is worth mentioning.
It took 24 hours, 3 (late) flights, 2 Tylenol PM and 1 disastrous airport transfer to get from California to London. Despite my excitement towards embarking on a year abroad, by the time I showed up at Brunel my mood pretty much matched the weather- cloudy with a chance of downpour. I was jet-lagged, drained from my misogynistic neighbor’s 3-hour lecture about why women like to feel stupid (fear not future traveling gals- he was American), and slightly homesick at the prospect of being gone for a year. This set the stage well for my arrival to accommodations, during which the woman handing my keys to me said, “You’re from California?! It’s so sunny and nice there, why would leave that to come to the UK?!”
All jokes aside, after a deep breath and an unintentional 16-hour nap, the week that followed proved worth the transition. I hopped on the International Reception’s bandwagon the next morning and toured the quaint town of Uxbridge. A few shopping tours and lengthy registration lines later, I’d found an international network of friendships that quelled any and all doubts I’d had initially. I was fortunate to have met quite the crew that week; the friends I made those first few days ended up being a loyal network of support who have been constant partners in crime in the 6 weeks we’ve been here. Despite being scattered across the different postgraduate programs at Brunel, we’re pretty good about checking in with each other, making travel plans (Brighton! Stonehenge! Bath!), keeping posted on big events, and above all, serving as loyal drinking mates.
Besides creating a beautifully diverse and supportive group of fun-lovin’ amigos, I quickly found that Brunel offers (in addition to some pretty competitive postgraduate programs) a plethora of extracurricular activities and societies to get involved in. The “Fresher’s Fayre”, which took place my second week here, was a bombardment of swimming, dancing, martial arts, rugby, football, American football, scuba diving, sky diving, skiing, music, art, film, political, activist, traveling, baking, language, international groups (the list goes on and on) ready to lure the oncoming slew of “Freshers” (or Freshmen). Albeit overwhelming at moments, the beauty of so much choice here makes it easy to cater your activities to your personality- I stuck with the Feminist Reading Group and Gospel Choir to fill my otherwise lonely Mondays (more on these in upcoming blogs!)
Inductions for my postgraduate programs slash sole purpose of existence for the next year- Masters in Cross-Cultural Psychology- came next. During these inductions, us fresh-blooded postgrads were given opportunity to get to know the course professors, mingle with our future course-mates, attend workshops, get acquainted with the resources the university has to offer, and listen to some inspiring and motivational speakers who took away the proverbial silver spoon upon which our undergraduate degrees were served and instead dished out hardcore Nietzsche quotes to kick our asses into gear.
In hindsight, those first few weeks really were a crucial combination of settling in, getting adjusted, overcoming some minor culture shock and ensuring access to the resources I will need from the university throughout the year. For any student thinking about or preparing to study abroad, it’s important to note that the ups and downs that come with said adjustments are all part of the process; and once the scale starts to balance out, the real fun begins!
Over the next few blogs I’m going to try to catch y’all up what I’ve been up to since my get lag wore off- Brighton, Stonehenge & Bath, 2013 Feminism Conference, Halloween in our flat… So keep your eyes peeled!